How to Monetize Your Podcast

by | Feb 8, 2021 | Entrepreneurship

Seth Godin says:

Podcasting is the new blogging.

While there are still great opportunities for bloggers, there’s no denying that podcasts are growing fast. Further, they give you a way to connect with an audience on a more personal level.

That said, podcasting is its own mountain. It takes more time and effort to go from idea to publishing compared to blogging, and rising through the ranks to be seen, and growing your listenership can represent significant challenges.

Then comes this issue of creating an independent income from your podcast. That could almost prove a mountain all its own, since direct revenue opportunities are few and far between, which means you’ll be relying more heavily on “indirect” means to close sales.

Still, it’s an issue worthy of exploration. So, in this guide, I share some thoughts on generating an independent income from your podcast.

The Essentials You Need to Succeed

The podcast landscape is changing fast. And that means if you don’t have the essentials in place, you’re going to struggle with monetization.

It’s challenging enough attracting and retaining an audience never mind monetizing it. So, as you seek to create an independent income from your audience, it’s critical to bear in mind the following:

  • Create quality content and look for opportunities to separate yourself from the crowd. Do fewer interviews (now a commodity) and add more solo episodes to your portfolio.
  • Focus on quality over quantity. Publishing daily may boost download numbers, which might make you feel better, but you could end up sacrificing engagement. Don’t publish mediocrity.
  • Explore new show formats. Solo episodes can take the form of rants, Q&As, industry updates (news is always compelling), listicles, reviews, and more.

Tactics & Episode Formats to Create an Independent Income from Your Show

Much of what I have learned, I have learned from observing James Schramko of SuperFastBusiness. Of course, I have learned a great deal from my own long, trial and error journey. Here I share findings from both.

But I can’t think of a better case study to focus on, because Schramko has generated eight-figures on the back of his podcast. I must give credit where it’s due!

But let’s get to those tactics, shall we?

Book Introduction

Book introduction

If you have a book, then you should consider reading the entire introduction on your podcast. You might feel like you’re giving away the “secret sauce,” but it can act as the perfect teaser to whet your audience’s appetite, especially if your book’s introduction is compelling!

Whenever I have a new book (and that is more often than a human being should), I make sure to read its introduction on the podcast. You can refer to these episodes:

Yes, Schramko himself has done the same thing. He has even used his book title (Work Less, Make More) as a branded term:

Just remember… if you’ve got a big following, book revenues will add up. But if you’re at that point, you probably have higher priced offers that generate more per sale already.

Book royalties at my level are nice, and they are growing, but they basically just pay for my gas (I’m not saying that’s anything to sneeze at!).

Training Snippet or Review

Training Snippet or Review

Whether you have a course, multiple courses, or a membership with training inside, chances are you already have valuable content you can leverage and repurpose as a podcast episode to boost sales.

As with reading your book introduction on your show, you might feel like giving away snippets of your product is a bad idea, but it can build a lot of trust with your audience and lead to more sales.

Also know that we are talking about snippets here. You don’t need to share the course or training in its entirety. 20 to 30 minutes is more than enough.

Oh, and by the way, you can review your own products. There’s no better way to control the conversation about your products online!

Here’s are just some of Schramko’s reviews of his own products and events:

Midroll Recommendations

Midroll Recommendations

I have experimented with midrolls and have had some success with them.

Note that I have never seen Schramko do this, as he doesn’t believe in running ads on his show. Having said that, if other methods don’t work for you, this might be worth experimenting with.

A midroll is basically an ad injected somewhere in the middle of your podcast. Even if you don’t have a sponsor for your show, you can sponsor it yourself or promote an affiliate offer (which is typically what I’ve done).

You can refer to these episodes for examples of midrolls:

At the time, I had the potential to make a greater independent income from promoting affiliate offers than I did my own products, so for a while this served as a worthwhile tactic.

Product Reviews

Product Reviews

Product reviews and comparisons make for great content for your podcast. And they also offer the opportunity to create an independent income from your show (if you are an affiliate for those products).

You can link to products mentioned in your show notes, and you can also share short links on your show (make sure they are short, because listeners will not remember long URLs or be able to type them in as they are listening).

Schramko has had a great deal of success generating an income doing this very thing. He’ll either review the product or have a guest on the show that created the product.

Keep in mind, though, this is because product recommendations are a good fit for his audience. This isn’t to say they will be a good fit for your audience. You can always test.

Personally, I have reviewed books on my podcast. I’m not a huge advocate of that, though, because it will limit your income potential severely (you’ll only make a small percentage on a $15 to $25 purchase).

That said, in the same way I have done midrolls, I have episodes where I mention affiliate offers throughout, like this one:

Like Schramko, I have interviewed guests whose products I promote, too, as seen below:

Finally, here are some examples via Schramko:

Free Consultation

Free Consultation

Many companies offer prospects free consultations to help them find the right product fit. It might be 30 minutes. It might be 60 minutes. Or it might be an over the phone conversation. Whatever the case, getting prospects to interact with you gives you an opportunity to close the sale, because they are already predisposed towards you (i.e., they trust you).

Schramko has diversified his coaching programs in the last year or so, to where he has different solutions based on the needs and budget of the prospect.

Subsequently, he put together a podcast episode to steer people in the right direction and help them figure out which program is right for them. He’s gone on record saying this episode has led to many sales.

You can find this episode here:

I have not created an episode like this myself, but the gears in my head are turning…

Sponsor Your Own Show

Always remember – your podcast is your own.

Schramko, as noted, does not run ads on his show. Andrew Warner of Mixergy has literally called out guests and their businesses for being fake or unverified. Tim Ferriss is not afraid to run several minutes of sponsor ads before the meat of his show even starts. John Lee Dumas of Entrepreneurs on Fire publishes daily (yes, new podcast content daily), and uses a standard interview format to keep his processes streamlined.

The point is that there are different strokes for different folks, and different ways of approaching creative income too.

But one thing we can all do, and should all consider doing, is sponsoring our own podcast.

Instead of promoting Audible at the front of your podcast, for instance – I have tried this with dismal results – promote your own offers, products, memberships, services, or otherwise.

Having a call to action towards the beginning of you show is not a bad idea, because some listeners simply won’t make it to the end.

And don’t forget to have a call to action at the end of your podcast too. Don’t go to all the trouble of recording a killer episode only to leave your listeners hanging. Always give them next steps!

Final Thoughts

While the above should not be considered a definitive guide on creating an independent income from your podcast, remember that the tactics mentioned are proven and reliable. You can easily get off in the weeds trying a million different things, but if you’re trying to solve the immediate pain of generating income from your podcast, your time is better spent polishing your content and messaging.

If you’re trying to solve the immediate pain of generating income from your podcast, your time is better spent polishing your content and messaging. Share on X

Additionally, I’ve mentioned several things throughout this guide that may be worthy of further study. Exploring sponsorships, for example, might be worth a try, especially if you have a large audience and good product-market fit.

Here’s wishing you great success in your podcasting efforts.

How do you create an independent income from your show? What has worked for you?

Let me know in the comments.

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